Character Creation: Research

I need a character for a story I’m writing, but I haven’t been the greatest at character creation, I’ve just made vague descriptions, never really ironing out details and making it up as I go along. This isn’t a very efficient way of designing characters. So, some research is needed to improve my skill, and, as conscequence, improve my characters.

IllidanA most of the sources I have looked at tell me one thing consistently: make your characters unique. In the words of Andra who wrote ‘10 Quick Tips to Help You Design Characters Like a Pro‘, “ideally, you should design your character so you can recognize them even if they were naked and bald.” Hmm… lets apply this to my Original Character that I am using in a fanfiction at the moment. Lythia Balfour is blonde, wears a military uniform similar to the character Jade Curtiss, has violet eyes, and is technically blind. Not that unique, I haven’t ever mentioned her having scars of any kind, though being in the military she is bound to have some. I haven’t even drawn her once. Okay, well lets compare Lythia to another character, already designed, completely unrelated; Illidan Stormrage from World of Warcraft. No need to look far, I have him as this paragraph’s image. Lets see, discounting purple skin, since that is a Night Elf trait, he has black hair, unique to him (for his race), his tattoos are unique to him. Horns, wings that are always present? Definitely unique. A tad less unique since the release of World of Warcraft: Legion, but the edition of Demon Hunters into the game, hasn’t subtracted much from the unique appearance of Illidan, as the character customization screen doesn’t allow customization that looks like Illidan (really, any unique character is impossible to replicate without mods).

linaren_darkshard_by_frostieheart-d9n643qAnother tip that I have read consistently? Colour. Choose your colours wisely. Colour is important for characters, you want to use the right colours, and you don’t want to use too many colours. “Typically, dark colours such as black, purples and greys depict baddies with malevolent intentions. Light colours such as white, blues, pinks and yellows express innocence, good and purity. Comic-book reds, yellows and blues might go some way to giving hero qualities to a character design,” as stated in the article ‘20 top character design tips‘ written by the staff of Creative Bloq. Seems easy right? Well, not really, lets look at another one of my characters; Linaren Darkshard. (This paragraph’s image). As can be seen, she is exhibiting colours that are highly saturated and clash as a consequence of this. While I acknowledge that I created Linaren for a high school surrealism art assignment, I can’t do much more with her than that, and that somewhat bugs me. I might end up redesigning Linaren eventually.

One particular article shared dos and don’ts for character creation. The one ‘don’t’ that I noted the most was “Inconsistency in your characters will jar your readers mightily.” Well… to the guys at Reader’s Digest…. I humbly apologise. I have noted inconsistencies in many of my characters, no matter how much I avoid them. I have failed you all. The main inconsistency… in my OC Lythia. Recently in her story, I revealed that she is blind, but I didn’t really explain how she could see very well. The explanation was flakey and I’m sorry to admit that I am probably never going to fix that. HOWEVER! I will take note of this fact for future reference. Planning is important. I should probably learn to stop writing half baked ideas and fully flesh them out before beginning my plan ((But… It works with drawing!! Why can’t I do the same for writing??”)).

So with all these tips, written here, and unmentioned, but on the articles, what should I do?

Well, lets start simple, outline what kind of character I’m looking for:

  • Female
  • Dancer or Musician
  • Traveller

Okay, so with that, I can start designing. So I should ask myself these questions:

  • Who is she?
  • What’s her story?
  • What’s ethnicity does she belong to?
  • What colours does she wear the most?
  • What style of clothing does she like wearing?
  • What’s her name?
  • Personality?
  • What are her goals?

And with that, I can start drawing ideas. Perhaps I’ll end up with a pink skinned alien girl wearing a lime green tutu. Hehehe, as fun as that sounds, I suppose we shall see. It’s been a long week. See you all next time~

~Icetail~

Reference List
10 Quick Tips to Help You Design Characters Like a Pro. (2017). PiXEL77. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from https://www.pixel77.com/10-tips-design-characters-pro/
Staff, C. (2017). 20 top character design tips. Creative Bloq. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from http://www.creativebloq.com/character-design/tips-5132643
Marks, C.S. (2017). Five Traps and Tips for Character Development. Liferichpublishing.com. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from http://www.liferichpublishing.com/AuthorResources/Fiction/Five-Traps-and-Tips-for-Character-Development.aspx
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